The year I got serious about reading

Photo of an open book on a table with eyeglasses resting on the book. Below the book are the words, "30 books read in 2016."

There were classics and there were new books. There were two weeks in China in which books about China accompanied me. There were authors newly discovered and previously read authors revisited. More than anything, 2016 was the year in which I rededicated myself to reading.

Halfway through 2016, I realized my folly. Actually, Stephen King helped me realize it.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot,” King wrote in On Writing.

His words triggered in me a more focused reading practice. Like a love story in which old lovers reunite, I rediscovered reading. As a child, I was never far from a book. But over the years I often replaced reading with other entertainment. King made me realize you must read if you want to write.

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From that point on last year, I became serious about reading. No more leisurely reading a book when time allowed and the moon was right. My commute, before falling asleep each night, hours on weekend afternoons, these were all times in which I filled with reading.

The results were tremendous. I read 28 books in 2016, more than I’ve read in a single year in many years. I read classics previously missed. I discovered African literature not written by Achebe. I completed the entire Harry Potter series, and, finally, know the fuss concerning the boy wizard.

I exposed myself to storytelling from a multitude of writers. The difference in writing style between Faulkner and Rowling is vast. A dawdling writer such as myself should be exposed to various storytellers’ styles.

This is just the beginning. An even more ambitious reading agenda is planned for me in 2017. Next week, I’ll share the 2017 reading list with you.

Before I do, though, here’s the list of books I read in 2016, listed alphabetically. Just in case you’re in search of ideas for your reading list.

What were some of the best books you read in 2016? Let me know in the comments.

Books Read in 2016

  1. 1984, George Orwell
  2. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott
  3. Carrie, Stephen King
  4. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  5. The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer, Douglas C. Jones
  6. Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945, Rana Mitter
  7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  11. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  12. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  13. Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone
  14. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein
  15. Known and Strange Things: Essays, Teju Cole
  16. Never Fall Down, Patricia McCormick
  17. Nicotine, Nell Zink
  18. On China, Henry Kissinger
  19. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
  20. Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  21. The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge, Michael Punke
  22. The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe
  23. A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, Norman Maclean
  24. The Shelf Life of Happiness, David Machado
  25. The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories, Ernest Hemingway
  26. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
  27. The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things, Courtney Elizabeth Mauk
  28. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
  29. The War of the Copper Kings, C.B. Glasscock

Photo of an open book on a table with eyeglasses resting on the book. Below the book are the words, "30 books read in 2016."